Monday, July 30, 2012

Opening Ceremony

My boys set an alarm and got themselves up to watch the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games. They are the perfect age for the Olympics now, old enough to understand, young enough to dream and aspire. Although, the Cherub was feeling a bit misled over "the Olympics" in that he got up early to see "The Olympics" and the Opening Ceremony kept not delivering any sport to him.  But apart from minor misunderstandings, they are enjoying the whole Olympic spirit wholeheartedly. The pool they attend for swimming lessons is running an Olympic-themed giveaway and both boys are completing the list of activities (word-searches, colouring in etc) with enthusiasm. It's very nice, a palliative to the things about the Olympics which are annoying, particularly the one-eyed jingoistic television coverage we get here.

I watched the opening Ceremony at the more civilised hour of 2pm after a morning spent tapping with the Kiddy Classes. My favourite bit was Rowan Atkinson's cameo, playing a single note on a synthesiser in a musical performance of Vangelis' Chariots of Fire theme. The individual petals becoming the Olympic Flame was lovely too, as was the nod to the NHS featuring JK Rowling, who read the excerpt from Peter Pan very well I thought.

Watching the faces of the many volunteers who drummed, or danced or played nurses, rustics, miners, suffragettes etc, brought back to me my own experience in an Opening Ceremony. In 2006, I was one of the volunteer dancers for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Looking back, I think it was a fantastic opening ceremony; featuring giant puppets, aerial trapeze stunts, a gorgeous Aboriginal sequence, motorbike riders with exploding jet packs, iconic Australian rockband The Church singing a reworked version of their beautiful song Under The Milky Way, and, of course, a flying tram. I was in the very start of the show, in the bit when the tram flew in. We were all huddled underneath the MCG, hearing the countdown of all the cities who had hosted the Games before us being chanted by the crowd, then the hush and magic of the winged W-class tram as it flew from the roof to the centre of the stage. Lots of people had tipped the flying tram, but actually when it flew down it didn't matter that it had been a badly kept secret, or a slightly obvious choice.  You could feel the love in the stadium because those trams are iconic and well loved and so very Melbourne, and it was a beautiful moment.

Underneath the stage though it was all tension as the tech crew got ready to grab the tram when it landed, secure the doors and start hoisting the performers up through the trapdoor so they could pour out onto the stage, which had been lit to look like a map of Melbourne. 

This is me dressed as a "Council Worker", posing outside the MCG before the show.  We were all dressed in the red colour spectrum to represent a range of Melbourne life. There were about a million make-up volunteers down in the carparks with us, with plans for every character.  Some of the faces and costumes were completely flamboyant, and there was a lot of excitement as to what we'd wear.  I was mildly disappointed to tell the truth, (fluoro vest, pfft) but the good news about my bit was that I was a "specialist" within the cast, so at a certain point in the proceedings I got to break out from the crowd and perform my specialty (tap-dancing).  Other specialists included swing-dancers, contortionists, acrobatics, juggling etc.

Two girls in my group were fairy penguins, but I can barely remember the other characters. I think there were netball teams, canteen ladies, Ladies Who Lunched... it's all a blur now.  In this dress rehearsal shot you can see my group, Slot 3.  I'm on the left, 2nd row, when they were still planning to have us in crazy fluorescent wigs.  We didn't come out of the tram, but we were next to those who did so could see what went on.

Other highlights of the night were performing the national anthem with sign-language (I've forgotten how to do this now), seeing the queen drive past me in the Royal Rolls, and afterwards, running up a million flights of stairs to join Fixit in the gods to watch the rest of the show.  As I pelted up the steps a security guard moved into a defensive pose, ready to bring me down.  Then he saw my crazy make-up, smiled at me and waved me on.

I just had to get my photo taken with Ceremony Director Nigel Triffitt, because of his Tap Dogs credentials (directed the first show).  He was great. Humorous, personable and creative and yet somehow, he seemed always to be quite relaxed in the middle of that massive production, at least in the presence of the volunteers. I was sad to hear of his sudden death this month.

When we were rehearsing the production, the people in charge said there will be lots of standing around, there will be boredom, but when your moment comes in front of that crowd, you will remember the feeling all your life.  They were right.  It was a massive thrill, a great hit of adrenaline and enormous fun.  Completely worth all those hours rehearsing in a paddock.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back in the saddle

Hello Blog, so neglected that even Mister Fixit was moved to ask if I was ever going to update you again.  Well, yes, now that school holidays are over, now that I have the house to myself (Mister Fixit is working day-shift this week), now that the housework and laundry are mostly in control, now that the mountain of adminny, emaily stuff I had to do for tap and soccer is done, done, done!... yes, yes I will update.  Let me tell you some of what has happened in the 5-or-so weeks (yikes!) since we spoke.


There was a craft camp at Sewjourn with fabulous friends: Suse, Janet, Jenny, Sue, Kate, Amelia, Magda. It was excellent as usual and I made a very nice corduroy dress which I'm exceptionally proud of, some lovely new bunting for my Tap Hall and some pants for the boys.  The best thing about it was having the full four days; I achieved a satisfying amount, I relaxed an extraordinary amount, I ate like a king and slept like a princess (in the princess room, the one with the big double bed!) and had a right royal good time with the girls.  When I got home, Cherub leapt on me to hug me, and didn't physically let go of me for a good hour afterwards.

There were 2 celebrations for my Mother's Significant Birthday:  a Melbourne do, hosted by my aunts, with Mum's extended family...


... (during which Fixit and I spent so much time going soppy about my cousins' various babies that I seriously asked him later if we should go and get his op reversed and see if we could make ourselves another.  Then I did the maths and worked out how old we'd be when the kid was still in high school and remembered all that lack of sleep stuff, and thought better of it.) 


... and a Sydney/ Canberra celebration, hosted by Mum (with my sister and brother and me being Number One Good Helpers.)


We all had a lovely time catching up with friends and family on both occasions.

There were some really excellent school reports and rewards for same.


Notice Climber's haircut?  Sculpted, not shaggy now.  He's been shaggy for so long that a mum from soccer, who has known Climber since he was 5, saw him playing with the new do and completely failed to recognise him, even when the coach addressed him by name.  She thought we had a new boy on the team with the same name.


There were school holidays - we didn't do a great deal, (apart from me jetting off to Sydney for a weekend) but we enjoyed the sleep-ins and a slower pace to life.  We managed some socialising with friends, a trip to see a show at The Magic Festival and an expedition to see the Wallace & Gromit exhibition at Scienceworks.  Man, Scienceworks is insanely busy on a wet day in school holidays!


There was a live rat in the bedroom, deposited there by Basil, who seems well-up on how to catch a vermin and bring it inside and less sure about what you should do with it next.  Fixit spent a very busy half hour trying to catch and destroy the rodent from behind wardrobes and under the bed, while Basil became completely freaked out and did his level best to leave the scene.  Cruelly, we locked him in to 'help' Fixit.  Finish what you start, pussycat. See him 'helping' here, sitting on the window ledge?  Not sure if it was the rat's squeaks or the way Fixit was trying to kill the rat with a big whacking stick that made Basil so insistent on exiting the bedroom.  Cherub and I watched through the windows in fascinated horror until the rat was slain. Fixit Inc, general repairs and rodent slaying.


That's all I can manage now, but more updates soon, I hope!